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COMMERCIAL / INDUSTRIAL / RESIDENTIAL AGRICULTURAL / MULTI-RESIDENTIAL REASSESSMENT IN HARRISON COUNTY TO BE COMPLETED
In January of 2015, The Harrison County Conference Board and the county assessor signed a contract with Vanguard Appraisal Services to perform the task of reassessing properties in Harrison County. The goal at completion of this project is to re-measure, re-inspect and re-value all Harrison County parcels for the January 1, 2019, assessment year.
Who is Vanguard Appraisals?
Vanguard Appraisals, Inc. was formulated, and has continuously conducted business, as a mass appraisal company. They started in the mass appraisal industry in 1968. Vanguard’s home office is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The primary business of Vanguard Appraisals, Inc. is to conduct mass appraisal projects for city, county and township jurisdictions. Vanguard has specialized in this area for the past 49 years. In doing so, they have had the opportunity to appraise property in more than 90% of the jurisdictions in Iowa. This opportunity has given them the experience and background to perform all revaluations in an efficient, accurate and timely manner.
The Iowa Department of Revenue has historically contracted with Vanguard Appraisals, Inc. to compile all cost tables and construction data for the Iowa Appraisal Manual. This manual is used by Iowa Assessors to develop accurate property listings and valuations specific to their jurisdictions. The accuracy of these property listings is essential for use in mass appraisal market analysis.
Why is there the need to reassess property?
Our property tax system assumes and requires that all assessable property be assessed in an equitable manner across the entire state. To achieve this, the system relies on local assessors to assess all property value in a uniform manner. However, there are many situations that can result in inequities. For example, when two businesses each have recent remodeling but only one of them has been reported, this would be unfair to the person who was being assessed for the remodeling. This is only one of several possible inequities in the assessment of properties. This is why projects like reappraisals are performed, TO CREATE EQUITY, not to raise your taxes.
Why do we need to hire someone from outside the county to reassess?
To ensure equity, it is important that an entire class of property be revalued at the same time. It wouldn’t be fair to re-value portions of the county in one year and other portions in subsequent years. We could do this process with our local office. However, we would need to hire additional staff so this project could be accomplished in a timely manner. The additional staff would be temporary. In this case, the county would have to pay to train these employees, provide them with additional benefits, and assume liability during the project. In addition, after the project is completed, the employees would be laid off, making them eligible for unemployment compensation. It makes economic sense to hire an outside firm for assistance for large projects like this. The contracted firm also brings expertise to perform the project in a timely manner with a high level of quality. Harrison County has gone one step further in ensuring equity among taxpayers. By completing a revaluation of all property classifications, the tax burden will not be shifted unnecessarily from one classification to another. This project will ensure that our property owners are not paying more than their share of the budgeted requirements.
How can a firm located outside our community know what the values are in Harrison County?
Because Vanguard Appraisal’s headquarters are located in Cedar Rapids, the majority of its employees live in Iowa, including some who live right her in Southwest Iowa. Secondly, the project begins with a thorough analysis of all of the market areas within Harrison County. Our assessor’s office has statistics and sales information that aid Vanguard in this task. The Harrison County Assessor will be very involved throughout the project.
Did you know that changes in your assessed valuation don’t necessarily mean that your taxes will go up or down accordingly?
One of the most common misconceptions is that a reassessment increases taxes. While it is true that your assessed value is used for computing taxes, it is not necessarily true that changes in your assessed valuation result in higher or lower taxes. Many people believe that if their valuation changes, that their property tax bill will change accordingly. The truth is, however, that there are many taxing districts throughout Harrison County. Each district calculates the needed funds to provide public services and divides it by the total taxable valuation within that district. This simple math creates a levy rate which is multiplied against each individual property owner’s taxable valuation, in terms of dollars per thousand of taxable value. The following comparison shows this point in more detail.
The Harrison County Assessor is announcing door-to-door inspections of all properties in Harrison County beginning approximately June 5th.
The purpose of a reappraisal project is to equalize property assessments so that each taxpayer is responsible for paying only his/her fair share of the property tax burden.
As part of that process, it is important to verify and update information on all businesses & residences in the county. Periodic inspection and reappraisal of properties are necessary as all properties do not increase or decrease in value at the same rate. Some properties physically deteriorate faster than others and, in many instances, similar buildings located in different areas of the county will differ greatly in value due to economic factors and location.
Data collectors from Vanguard Appraisals, Inc. (with photo ID) will assist in making interior and exterior inspections of all Commercial & Residential properties. These individuals will be collecting physical characteristics only. Information to be collected includes type of construction, type of interior finish, physical condition of the property, age of structures and exterior measurements. Information will be compiled & used to estimate the fair market value of each property. Vanguard Appraisals, Inc. and the Assessor’s office will be making a thorough analysis of all the market areas in Harrison County. Local construction costs and local economic conditions will all be considered in arriving at the final values. The Harrison County Assessor’s Office will be very involved throughout the project. No estimate of value will be given at the time of inspection.
Vanguard Appraisals, Inc. has assisted the Harrison County Assessor’s Office with programming & projects over the years. They are responsible for developing the current version of the Iowa Real Property Appraisal Manual which the State of Iowa requires all Assessor’s to use to value properties. Vanguard Appraisals, Inc. has had the opportunity to appraise property in more than 90% of the jurisdictions in Iowa, including the surrounding counties of Pottawattamie, Shelby, Crawford, & Monona. Several Vanguard Employees will be residing in Harrison County while they conduct the inspections.
Property owners are asked to cooperate by allowing a complete inspection of their property and providing accurate information so that a fair and equitable assessment may be determined for each property.
By completing a revaluation of all property classifications, the project’s purpose of Fairness & Equity can be accomplished for all properties and taxpayers. The project is scheduled for completion December 31, 2018.
Notice of final value estimates will be mailed to each property owner after January 1, 2019. Property owners will have an opportunity to meet informally to discuss their revaluation in the spring of 2019.
The new assessed values will be effective as of January 1, 2019, for taxes payable in fiscal year 2020 - 2021.
All law enforcement agencies as well as the County Assessor’s Office will be kept up-to-date with the areas where data collectors are working. They will also have a listing of all names, photos, and license plate numbers of anyone involved in the project.
If any property owner has questions regarding the reappraisal project, they may contact the County Assessor’s Office at (712) 644-3101.
Total budgets for services
Total taxable value
Individual taxable value
Property tax dollars
$25/1000 of value
$12.50/1000 of value
You can see from this comparison that the property tax dollars stayed the same, even though the individual taxable valuation doubled from $100,000 to $200,000. The reason is that the budgets stayed the same in the sample district, so the levy rate was cut in half as a result of the increase of $20,000,000 in taxable valuation. Admittedly, it doesn’t always work this way. The constant demand for services can create increased budgets. However, it is important to know that changes in your assessed value don’t automatically mean there will be a change in your property taxes. The levy rate, which is set by local governments, actually determines what you pay.
Can I appeal my new assessment if I don’t feel my property would sell for the new assessed value?
Property owners will have an opportunity to meet with a representative of Vanguard Appraisals, Inc. and the County Assessor if they feel for some reason the new value does not represent fair market value. These meetings are an opportunity for the property owner to submit any information which may affect the estimate of market value of their property. Property owners who wish to meet with a representative of Vanguard will request an appointment by calling the county assessor’s office. The deadline for making appointments with Vanguard representatives will be announced as valuations are completed. Property owners who feel the value indicated is not fair market value should be prepared to state their estimate of market value and present evidence to support that estimate, such as sales, costs, remodeling, recent appraisals, etc.
Property owners will also have an opportunity to protest the new assessed values to the Board of Review. A written protest must be submitted with the county assessors’ office between April 2nd and April 30th for the Board of Review to consider any adjustment.
Feel free to stop into the assessor’s office in the Harrison County courthouse if you have any questions regarding assessment issues.
It is hoped that the information provided in this article underscores the fact that a reassessment project is undertaken for the purpose of FAIRNESS AND EQUITY, not for any other reason. The assessor’s office appreciates your understanding and cooperation.
© 2017 Harrison County, Iowa